Meet Sarah, the bold lady behind Blue Ashes Travel. She writes in both French and English, and speaks of how studying abroad has evolved her from a timid girl to a proactive one.
1. What’s your name, age, occupation and country you are from?
My name is Sarah, I’m 21 years old, I’m from France and I’m currently studying for a master’s degree in Quebec, Canada.
2. Why did you decide to study overseas?
I’ve always wanted to live abroad, I never pictured myself staying all my life in France. Leaving for my studies was the best solution, I could travel while completing my degree.
3. In which country did you study and how long?
I chose to study in Quebec City because I had friends there, I wanted to discover Canada and we were speaking the same language. The initial plan was to stay there two years, to complete my master’s degree. Turned out I realized, amongst the tons of things I discovered thanks to this experience, that I didn’t like what I was doing anymore. Thanks to that trip, I changed deeply and my vision of things too, I now have different needs. So long story short, I’m finishing the first year of my degree here, then I will be travelling during summer and will come back to France in August to start a whole new master’s degree!
4. Share a favourite photo taken while you were studying abroad!
It was a tough choice, but I chose this picture taken from the dock of friends of mine, who have a cabin in the woods with access to that pretty lake. It was taken in Autumn, the lake had just started freezing and the whole scene was magical and quiet.
5. How did studying abroad make you change your perspective of life?
I came to Quebec to do a master’s degree in scientific research. I had a passion for research and I was convinced my field of study was my vocation. But it was the first time I truly experienced research and every ordeals that come with it. This trip changed my perspective of life in the way that I realized work and study are not everything in life. I finally decided to give a chance to things I really liked but ignored because they were too risky or with low chances of getting me a job, later.
6. Have you done something during this trip that surprised yourself?
Besides this whole “take risks” thing, I surprised myself by seizing opportunities and taking initiatives: I do things I would be too lazy or shy to try, and I start creating things I cared for without waiting for anyone to ask for it or suggest it, like my blog for example!
7. Did you witness something that touched you?
A thing that touched me deeply during my stay was the gathering on the 15th of November, two days after the Paris attacks. I think this horror has been an ordeal also (or especially) for French people living abroad, who felt so hurt while being so far from home. That’s why I was deeply touched by the gathering at the French Consulate in Quebec, where I finally felt like I was home, sharing my sadness with others.
8. What’s your favourite travel website, whether it be for travel planning or travel inspiration?
I read French and English blogs, but in the English ones, I’d say I like The Londoner, for travel inspiration. For both inspiration and planning, I enjoy reading Hey Nadine, I love watching her videos.
7. If you had 2 tips you could share from your study abroad experience to students feeling apprehensive about taking this leap, what would they be?
First would be to not miss that chance, no matter how scary it seems. There will be ups and downs but eventually it’s such a great experience. No matter how cliché it sounds, just a few months of studying abroad are enough to change yourself and your vision of things, and that’s an amazing life experience.
My second advice would be to organise things neatly and as soon as possible. It took me a year to prepare my departure, between the university admission, the immigration, where to stay, etc. So organizing carefully is key to a good experience. Once everything is settled, you leave little room to issues (at least the ones that are preventable), and all you have to do is enjoy!
Student Travel Series seek to showcase travel stories from students, for students. The aim of this series is to inspire more youths and students to take the leap and discover a world outside of your own!
What do you feel about Sarah’s story? Let us know below!